Sunday, November 16, 2014

Farmhouse Mild (Watermelon): Tasting Notes

This was a batch of Farmhouse Mild that had the Pedio in the fermentation blend kick up some diacetyl after I had kegged the beer and before I tapped it.  In order to clean this up, I added some extra Brettanomyces, and since I had been wanting to try a beer with watermelon juice, I decided to add that here to provide some extra sugars to jump-start the Brett.  I ended up adding the juice from 8 pounds of watermelon into roughly 5 gallons of Farmhouse Mild, and then let it ferment for about a month.  The resulting beer had a nice watermelon character, with a nice taffy-like character.

Appearance: Pours a hazy light peach color with just a touch of pink in the light.  Big, fluffy white head with good retention, and plenty of sticky lacing on the way down.

Aroma: Nose starts out with a nice watermelon-taffy aroma, and then fades into some slight lactic acidity as well as a bit of plant-like watermelon rind.  The latter isn't off-putting at this level, and reminds me of the "green"-type flavor you get from something like watermelon gum.  Speaking of, I was pretty shocked how well watermelon taffy/gum apparently captures the flavor of watermelon juice.  (Well, at least how watermelon juice tastes after it's been fermented and mixed with saison.)

Flavor: Similar to the nose.  Quite juicy and refreshing.  It's too bad I'm only a few months late on this one, as it snowed half an inch in the Chicago area last night.  (In fairness, I've had this on tap since mid-October, though it's not like it was super warm then either.)  Watermelon really leads the way, dominating over any other character, though the watermelon itself is not overpowering.  I like the level here, even though the base beer doesn't shine through too much.  There's a touch of grain/grass in the background.  Though the hops from the base beer have mostly faded, there is still a generic "fruitiness" that I wouldn't attribute to the watermelon, and I'm guessing is lingering from the initial American hops.

Mouthfeel: Light and extremely refreshing.  This is something I could drink a gallon of after doing yard work in the summer.  Even as I sit here cold and watching football, it's hard to put down.  Super crisp with heavy carbonation, it's light and airy, yet the flavor still lingers quite well.

Overall: I'm quite pleased with how this one turned out, especially given that it was an experiment with a beer that had developed some issues.  I will absolutely return to this one next year, and this pretty much firms up my thoughts lately that there's no reason for me to brew fruited Berliners when I can instead just go with a session saison and add fruit (particularly when adding fruit juice, which creates a swift secondary fermentation).

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